Judge declares mistrial in Breonna Taylor case

Jury of 11 white people, one Black man, was deadlocked in Breonna Taylor case
A statues of Breonna Taylor was unveiled in Union Square, New York City on October 1, 2021. (Photo credit: Shutterstock.com/Ryan Rahman)

A federal jury that deliberated for three days over whether a Louisville police officer violated Breonna Taylor’s civil rights during a 2020 narcotics raid could not reach a unanimous verdict, and the judge declared a mistrial Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings, who received notes hours apart from the jury indicating that they were deadlocked on the charges against former Louisville Metro Police Detective Brett Hankison, saw no other option. She issued an Allen charge after the first one, an order for the jury to resume deliberating in the hopes of getting a unanimous verdict. Nothing changed, however.

The hung jury means that Hankison, one of three officers who discharged their weapons early on March 13, 2020, has neither been acquitted nor convicted. He was charged with violating the civil rights of Taylor, her boyfriend, and her neighbors when, according to prosecutors, he blindly fired ten shots into her home — none of which hit Taylor. Hankison, who was facing a maximum sentence of life in prison, testified that he was trying to protect fellow officers.

Taylor’s death led to protests against racial injustice, which were inflamed again two months later when George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. Taylor, 26, an emergency room technician, was asleep when plainclothes police executed a search warrant on the wrong apartment at around 12:40 a.m. Fearing they were about to be victims of crime, her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, shot first, which led to the hail of gunfire that took Taylor’s life.

The trial took three weeks. Prosecutors can decide whether to retry the case with a different jury but have not announced a decision.

Of the jurors, only one was Black, a man. The other 11 were white, six men and five women.

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